Parsha Behar By: Emily Blustein – Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta – Atlanta, GA Rest for the land, rest for the people, all will be provided. This week we are reading Behar which tells us about shmitah and jubilee. Shmitah is during every seventh year, you shall not work the land, and Jubilee which is the 49th year where shmitah is practiced along with setting all slaves free and all land goes back to its original owners. G-d reassures the people that they have nothing to worry about during shmitah as the 6th year of growing will produce more than enough until the 8th years yield is ready. That’s putting a lot of faith in powers other than your own hard work. What did the farmers do during the 7th year? Did they enjoy or lament it? As I have been dabbling in farming, the thought of not being able to grow food for myself and others for a whole year is a bit unsettling. Truly, if everyone practiced this, what would be there to eat? Or were we all on different shmitah schedules? Maybe my neighbor is only in their 5th year when I’m in my 7th and […]
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, MI is setting the bar for sustainability high with their excellent work as a member of the Hazon Seal of Sustainability Cohort 2016! Between planning their first Green Kiddush, to using only glass mugs and recyclable paper products at events, there seems to be no limit on what they can achieve. After completing the Hazon Seal Audit, the Green Team at Shaarey Zedek immediately replaced all Styrofoam cups in the Berman Center of Education with glass cups that the congregation had in storage. They also made sure that the congregation’s clergy team spoke about the Green Team and its work during a Shabbat sermon, to get everyone excited about greening and increase awareness of the important work the Green Team does. Shaarey Zedek’s Green Kiddush and Tu B’shvat Seder on the Shabbat of Tu B’shvat was also well-received. Wren Beaulieu-Hack – Director of the Berman Center for Jewish Education at Shaarey Zedek – says that “The day we spent celebrating Tu B’Shvat, as a community was the most successful project we’ve completed thus far. It was wonderful to see our congregants talking with each other about environmental issues through a Jewish lens and to see […]
Becky Adelberg, JCC Chicago Parshat Re’eh Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! This is our inaugural post. Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Be sure to check back weekly! PS Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions! And now, on to Becky’s post … I’m thrilled for this opportunity to write about one of my favorite events of the year: Shabbat on the Lake. To me, Shabbat on the Lake is more than an event. It is a mindset, a movement, a gathering of all corners of the Jewish community; it’s a tapestry of various affiliations, ways of engaging with Judaism and the possibility of a Jewish community who focuses on things that unite us as opposed to what divides us. Shabbat on the Lake’s inception at JCC Chicago arose six years ago to show young Jewish adults various ways […]
The New Paradigm Spiritual Communities Initiative (NPSCI) is designed to support the development of spiritual communities that use the wisdom and practice of Judaism (chochma), to help people live lives of sacred purpose (kedusha) and inspire people to contribute to a more just and peaceful world (tzedek). The context for this work are covenantal communities (kehillot) where a group of people intentionally enter into a mutual obligatory relationship in which they commit to a common mission and give of their time and psychic energy to support the viability of the group and the material and spiritual needs of the members of the group. Hazon is a founding partner of NPSCI, which recently launched a new website, and was featured today in a cover story in the New York Jewish Week: Make Way For ‘Earthodoxy’ – A new effort to support spiritual communities is fueled by those on the communal fringes. The new website includes short essays on how participants are building spiritual community. And starting April 11th, a weekly blog will feature longer essays, which speak to the more conceptual issues informing new paradigm spiritual communities, and aims to generate creative thinking around the ideas that can inform the creation and building of vibrant spiritual communities.
By Nati Passow 11 months ago, I posted a piece on the Jewish Farm School website about how we were choosing to embrace Shmita as an organization. You can read the entire piece here, but the final paragraph sums up the gist. We are using the Shmita year as an opportunity for fewer programmatic commitments, more organizational reflection, and a focus on building a strong local foundation in Philadelphia. It is our hope that in this year of rest and renewal, we are feeding the soil that will, in turn, feed thoughtful, inspired, and sustainable organizational growth for the next Shmita cycle. What played out over the following 11 months has proven to be incredibly significant as we enter into a new phase of organizational growth, in line with the beginning of the next Shmita cycle. Since 2013, we have been making an organizational pivot, turning our focus to our Urban Sustainability Programs in Philadelphia. We saw the Shmita year as an opportunity to complete this shift, and do so in a way that would create a strong foundation for this next phase of our work. We would not look to grow our programs or our budget, and would instead dedicate time […]
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Missing the 2014 Israel Ride?…Wondering what it would be like to join us on the 2015 Israel Ride? Read below for first hand accounts of day by day riding!
Yesterday the Israel Ride entered the heart of the desert. Participants rode past magnificent desert vistas and ate lunch at Sde Boker, the burial place of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel. While the Shomrim hiked to a beautiful desert spring in the afternoon, the Chalutzim took a detour to the Egyptian border. All three groups were greeted at the end of the day by one of the most breath-taking sites of the trip, Mitzpe Ramon. After three days of riding, our community is enjoying a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat. Today riders have the option to participate in communal prayer, discussions, hikes and yoga. After lunch there will also be opportunities to learn more about the work of Hazon and the Arava Institute. These organizations encourage sustainability, peace and service in Israel and America. The Arava Institute exists to ensure that the world’s environmental resource challenges are a catalyst for dialogue, cooperation and trust among people. Located in Southern Israel, this specialized academic institute prepares young Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and international leaders to cooperatively address the region’s environmental needs. Hazon similarly promotes sustainability by creating healthier communities in the Jewish world and beyond. Hazon does so by […]
On our first day of riding we set off just as the sun rose above the Jerusalem skyline. As 165 participants took to their bikes to ride in support of peace and sustainability it was truly a sight to behold. To read more about the day click here!
The word “community” is a central word in Jewish life. We talk about “the Jewish community” a good deal. But the nature of community is complex and evolving. In the Manchester of my childhood it was taken for granted that my parents would likely know the parents of my friends, and that my grandparents would know their grandparents. My grandma died a quarter of a mile from where she was born – having lived nearly 96 years in one square mile of Jewish north Manchester. That world does still exist in some places, but it is shrinking. In its place we have evolving communities: old friends whom I catch up with when I see them; newer friends who live nearby. Virtual “friends,” with all the complexity we know that notion encompasses. I have been thinking about the notion of community in relation to Sukkot – and Sukkahfest – and our Intentional Communities Conference, at Isabella Freedman from November 20 – 23. The sukkah is something we construct with friends and family. Like the mythic barn-raisings of the old West or of the Amish community, it is the very opposite of “virtual” community; it is as tangible as a hammer and […]